Stillman's Upward Bound Program Helps Students Improve Exponentially
“Dear Math, please grow up and solve your own problems. I’m tired of solving them for you,” is but one of a litany of online zingers that reflect exactly how some people feel about math. Fortunately, over 130 Upward Bound students residing on Stillman’s campus for a six-week summer program are learning just how much fun math can be.
During the school year, Upward Bound students meet on Saturdays. Participants take classes in English, reading, natural science, foreign language, history, computer science and mathematics. The program, which is funded by the U. S. Department of Education under Title IV of the Higher Education Act known as TRIO, also provides tutoring, ACT and SAT preparation, college and career information, instruction and advisement in academics, counseling, visits and tours to colleges and universities, cultural and social enrichment activities and job shadowing.
“More than ninety percent of Upward Bound participants go on to college,” states Dr. Bettye Mullen, Director of Educational Support Services. “Stillman has had a program since 1966. Since its inception, the College has served well over 25,000 students from surrounding communities.”
This summer, in addition to taking academic classes, Upward Bound students have had fun participating in many enrichment activities, including a Jeopardy style Scholars’ Bowl, a Spelling Bee and—yikes!—a Math Bowl.
Dr. Linda Bradford, who secured a government contract through the Redstone Missile Defense Agency in Huntsville to promote math, says, “I hope students will learn to appreciate mathematics and note the importance of it as a daily survival skill needed to make logical decisions.”
Dr. Bradford, who serves as Dean of the Division of Professional Education, wants more students to see math as a career path. So does Stillman College Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Cecil Flournoy, who teaches Upward Bound students throughout the year and in the summers.
“If you write the word STEM vertically and hold it up, the M is at the bottom—it is the foundation. Math is the foundation for science, technology and engineering,“ states Dr. Flournoy, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Iowa.
Although many people agree that math is important, students who struggle through mathematics classes often pride themselves in being able to recite the Rule of Math: “If it seems easy, you’re doing it wrong.”
But Dr. Flournoy believes that Upward Bound helps to turn mathephobes into math lovers by showing students that mathematics is easier than they think. “When students say that math is difficult, often it is because they haven’t practiced enough. Through repetition they are able to see and understand patterns.”
Associate Professor of Mathematics Kendrick White, who is completing his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and also teaches Upward Bound students, believes that studying in the summer is particularly helpful. “When students take a long break from math, they tend to forget. Being engaged in mathematics during the summer gives students a chance to memorize skills so that there is less conscious effort required to solve problems. This helps them to develop speed.”
Jacarius Brown, who has been in the program for two years, says, “Upward Bound has made me a better student. It forces me to think in a different way. With the help of Dr. Flournoy and Mr. White, I have learned to solve math problems in three or four different ways.”
Kwanadjhia Hamilton, a 12th grader who has been in Upward Bound for four years, says, “This program has taught me how to work problems out in my head without using a calculator; how to properly set up equations; how to better memorize formulas; and how to practice working out problems in a speedy manner.”
Upward Bound helps first-generation college students and students from families that meet income guidelines established by the federal government to graduate from high school, attend college and reach their full potential.
Stillman’s Upward Bound Program currently serves students from Green, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties. After completing the program and graduating from high school, Upward Bound students are provided a fee waiver to take the ACT or SAT. In addition, the summer following their senior year in high school, Upward Bound students are allowed to enroll in six college credit hours of coursework at Stillman. These classes are offered at no cost to the students and the credits can be transferred to other colleges and universities.
“If a student wants to pursue a college degree, Upward Bound is the program for them and Stillman is the place. We are looking for students that want to go to college,” says Dr. Mullen. “Students must always remember ‘it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish!’”
Thanks to Upward Bound, many students are improving exponentially in all subjects—including math.
For more information about the Upward Bound program, call 205-366-8904.
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